Jacob’s Pillow recently announce eight artist residencies this winter and spring at the Pillow Lab, its year-round incubator for creating new dance works.
“Our Associate Curators, Melanie George and Ali Rosa-Salas, and I are excited to announce the artists developing new work at the Pillow Lab. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, it’s essential that the Pillow provide space, time, and funding to assist in the recovery of our field,” said Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Pamela Tatge. “We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for providing leadership support for the Lab.”
The recipients for Winter/Spring 2022 include Deborah Goffe, Kayla Hamilton, Ladies of Hip-Hop, Gesel Mason, Taylor Stanley, Ananya Chatterjea, Emma Cianchi, and Irene Rodríguez.
Choreographers and dancers receive unrestricted use of the Pillow’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the 7,000 square-foot Perles Family Studio. Artists also receive free housing, a stipend, professionally filmed video documentation, access to the Pillow’s extensive archives and an editor to provide feedback on their work in progress.
This is the fifth year of the Pillow Lab as part of Vision ‘22, the organization’s five-year strategic plan to be complete by 2022. In its years of serving artists, the Pillow Lab improved upon a residency program that has existed in various forms since the Pillow’s inception in the early 1930s.
Choreographers selected for a residency through the Pillow Lab are chosen by Tatge and Jacob’s Pillow Associate Curators Melanie George and Ali Rosa-Salas. Most residencies culminate with an informal, in-person, work-in-progress showing as part of the In Process Series. Showings are limited to an intimate, invited audience of Jacob’s Pillow Members as well as faculty and students from the College Partnership Program.
Fall 2021 Pillow Lab residency recipients included jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham, Indigenous Enterprise, Taylor Stanley and Shamel Pitts, and Yve Laris Cohen. A number of works developed at the Pillow Lab were performed at the 2021 Festival by artists including Dorrance Dance, Brian Brooks/Moving Company, Emily Johnson Catalyst, and jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham.
Winter/Spring 2022 Pillow Lab Residency Season
Deborah Goffe (Jan. 12-22)
Deborah Goffe is a dance maker, performer, educator, and curator whose commitments to locality, scalable intimacy, interdisciplinary, and the handmade compels her to cultivate environments and experiences through choreographic, design, and social processes. Through Scapegoat Garden (a Connecticut-based creative engine) and other platforms, Goffe strives to forge relationships between artists and communities by helping people see, create and contribute to more expansive visions of ourselves, each other, and the places we call home.
Goffe will be developing Liturgy|Order|Bridge in the Pillow Lab, a work inspired by communal embodiment in the Black church and the absurdity of Fellini’s ecclesiastical fashion show. These serve as points of reference to correlate religious ritual with theatrical devices that can make the membrane between performance and audience more porous. Centering dance as the organizing principle in a ritualized public ceremony, the work asks: What might it mean to engage dance practice as faith practice, performance as communal ceremony, performance space as consecrated site, and the fellowship of shared witness, place, and inheritance?
Liturgy|Order|Bridge activates our intersecting identities, senses of place, and commitments to support one another. Goffe will be joined in this endeavor by her core collaborators Lauren Horn, Arien Wilkerson (dance artists), and Abena Koomson-Davis (musician).
Kayla Hamilton (Jan. 24-30)
Kayla Hamilton, a Black Disabled choreographer, will be using the Pillow Lab to engage in the beginning stages of a creative work and dialogue around Black Disabled artistry alongside several collaborators. Hamilton is an artist, producer, and educator originally from Texarkana, Tex., who now resides in Bronx, N.Y. She is a member of the 2017 Bessie Award-winning collective of skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds, curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa. In addition to skeleton architecture, Kayla has danced with Gesel Mason Performance Projects, Sydnie L. Mosley Dances and Maria Bauman-Morales/MBDance. Kayla’s work has been presented at Gibney, Performance Space New York and New Live Arts. Kayla is not dancing, she’s a special education teacher at the Highbridge Green School who loves to watch Law and Order while sipping on peppermint tea.
In the Pillow Lab, Hamilton will have a rare opportunity to bring collaborators together who reside in different quadrants of the country, including collaborators on this project, and will give them time and space to be generative. Hamilton’s collaborators for this residency include: Nicole McClam, Joselia Hughes, Jerron Hermon, Christopher Unpezverde Núñez, and Brandon Kazen-Maddox.
Ladies of Hip-Hop (Feb. 16-27)
Ladies of Hip-Hop Dance Collective, LDC, is an all female intergenerational dance collective that creates dance works illuminating the strength, power, and diversity of women in hip-hop. Ever present in the work is the freestyle, ciphering, family dances, and call and response that serve as the essence of street and club dance culture, while exploring cultural forms for proscenium performance. Founded by director and choreographer Michele Byrd-McPhee, LDC creates collaborative works that celebrate and center feminist narratives examining the intersections of gender, race, and resistance.
Building on their formative January 2021 convening in a Works & Process at the Guggenheim bubble residency at Bethany Arts Community, culminating in a rare-for-the-time video performance filmed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, and subsequently, their summer 2021 On The Road engagement with Jacob’s Pillow, which took free performances to towns across Berkshire County, the hip-hop collective will be using the Lab to further develop their Black Dancing Bodies project. The project was created to capture the beauty and power of Black female street dancers in movement by Black female photographers. Through a series of movement sessions, the project aims to tell their stories through interviews and photographs, documenting the importance, power, and presence of Black women in hip-hop.
Gesel Mason (March 3-14)
Gesel Mason is artistic director for Gesel Mason Performance Projects and associate professor of dance and choreography at the University of Texas at Austin. She was a member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects. Her company, Gesel Mason Performance Projects (GMPP), serves as a medium for her creative work. GMPP is a project-based dance company that seeks to create meaningful, relevant, and compelling art events as a way to encourage compassion and inquiry. In her work, Mason utilizes dance, theater, humor, and storytelling to bring visibility to voices unheard, situations neglected, or perspectives considered taboo.
Mason will be using her time in the Pillow Lab to work on Yes, And, a collection of performance events that center an expansive vision of Black womanhood as the operating force in the creative process. An iterative approach informed by the expertise and lived experiences of self-identified Black women and femmes, Yes, And asks: “Who would you be and what would you do if, as a Black woman, you had nothing to worry about? What would you create and how might you be in community with others?” The questions frame a methodology of undoing and re-imagining that offers participants and witnesses the freedom “to find” and to “be found” from this recalibrated place. The project is supported by National Performance Network and New England Foundation for the Arts.
Taylor Stanley (March 15-20)
Already a celebrated principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Taylor Stanley continues on his own journey, pursuing new movement frontiers. Building on Stanley’s two 2021 Pillow Labs, during which he worked on a Pillow-commissioned ensemble work by postmodern choreographer Jodi Melnick and a solo by choreographer Shamel Pitts, Stanley returns in 2022 with collaborators on two other works that will premiere at the Pillow during Festival 2022. Although William Forsythe will not be in attendance for the Pillow Lab, Forsythe will also be creating a new solo for Stanley’s Festival 2022 program.
Ananya Chatterjea (March 22-28)
Ananya Dance Theatre is a company of cultural activists and BIPOC women, womxn, and femme artists who believe in the transformative power of dance. In dancing stories where the lives and dreams of typically marginalized communities occupy the center, they shift the landscape of mainstream culture, build understanding about arts and social justice, and empower artistic voices. Their artistic work unfolds through Yorchha, a unique movement aesthetic of contemporary dance that draws on traditional Odissi, the martial art Chhau, and Vinyāsa Yoga, and a social justice choreographic methodology, to celebrate a transnational feminist practice. Their work invites audiences to participate in their strategy of #occupydance, the movement of dancing as civic action.
Ananya Chatterjea is Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota. Her second book, Heat and Alterity in Contemporary Dance: South-South Choreographies, re-framing understandings of Contemporary Dance from the perspective of dance-makers from global south locations, was published in November 2020.
Fresh off of a tour of their newest work Dastak: I Wish You Me, Ananya Dance Theatre will begin the creative process for a new evening-length work during this Pillow Lab residency. Ananya will be developing Nūn Gherāo (surrounded by salt), an evening-length devised dance theatre piece, responding to the 1978-79 massacre of 10,000 refugees from Bangladesh on Marichjhnapi island in West Bengal, India, and adjacent stories of genocide and eco-displaced communities.
Emma Cianchi (March 30-Apr. 10)
In collaboration with American Dance Abroad, the Pillow welcomes Naples-based choreographer Emma Cianchi as a part of Woman Made, an initiative focused on international women choreographers, which is a winning project of Boarding Pass Plus ‘21/’22 of the Italian Ministry of Culture. Woman Made is a project of the Italian Ministry of Culture and is intended to promote the courage of international female choreographic voices. Organized by ArtGarage, the creative work will originate in seven countries with a view to sharing intentions and achieving common goals including the positioning of women in powerful roles in dance through international cultural exchange.
Cianchi is the leading force of ArtGarage, and artistic curator of dance at the Teatro Bellini in Naples. As a choreographer, her work embraces the use of new technologies in an eclectic and original manner. In 2017, she received the Coreografo Elettronico Award. As a part of this exchange, Cianchi will develop a new work with U.S.-based dancers in the Pillow Lab, and acclaimed New York-based choreographer Kimberly Bartosik will travel to Italy to develop a new work with dancers from across Italy.
Irene Rodríguez (June)
Irene Rodríguez will be in residence leading up to the Jacob’s Pillow Gala, developing a new work that has been commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow and the Vivienne Jones Endowment Fund at Jacob’s Pillow. The work will premiere at the Season Opening Gala on June 18, 2022.
Born in Cuba, and settled recently in the US, Irene Rodríguez is a leading international figure of Spanish dance and Choreography; the King of Spain granted her the Order “Isabella the Catholic,” Spain’s highest civilian honor. Principal Dancer, Choreographer and educator, she has worked as dancer and style and Choreography consultant of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She earned a Theater Arts Degree and a Master’s Degree in Theoretical Studies of Dance given conferences internationally and master classes to the Juilliard School, San Jose Ballet, etc. In 2019 she was the director of the Spanish and Flamenco Dance Program of the School at Jacob’s Pillow.
Rodriguez founded her own dance company: Compañía Irene Rodríguez, which has performed in the most prestigious theaters and festivals around the world and in the U.S., including the Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She founded and directed Havana’s most prestigious Spanish dance academy and she has also been the artistic director of the International Festival “La Huella de España” founded by Alicia Alonso. Among her awards are: First Prize in the VIII Iberoamerican Choreography Competition, the Audience and UNEAC Award at the Choreography contest “Vladimir Malakhov,” the Iberoamerican Medal Honoris Causa (México University); among others.